Skip to main contentAccessibility feedback

Antoine Gaubil

A French Jesuit and missionary to China, b. at Gaillac (Aveyron), July 14, 1689; d. at Peking, July 24, 1759

Click to enlarge

Gaubil, ANTOINE, a French Jesuit and missionary to China, b. at Gaillac (Aveyron), July 14, 1689; d. at Peking, July 24, 1759. He entered the Society of Jesus September 13, 1704, was sent to China, where he arrived June 28, 1722, and thenceforth resided continuously at Peking until his death. His Chinese name was Sung Kiun-yung. He had taken Parennin’s place as head of the school in which Manchus were taught Latin, to act as interpreters in Russian affairs. Gaubil, the best astronomer and historian among the French Jesuits in China during the eighteenth century, carried on an extensive correspondence with the savants of his day, among them Freret and Delisle. His works are numerous and are even yet highly prized. Among them is “Traite de l’Astronomie Chinoise”, in the “Observations mathematiques”, published by Pere Souciet (Paris, 1729-1732). From Chinese sources Gaubil translated the history of Jenghiz Khan (Histoire de Gentchiscan, Paris, 1739) and part of the annals of the T’ang Dynasty (in “Memoires concernant les Chinois”, vols. XV and XVI); he also wrote a treaty on Chinese chronology (Traite de la Chronologie Chinoise, Paris, 1814) and executed a good translation of the second of the Chinese classics, the “Book of History” (Shoo-king), edited by De Guignes (Paris, 1770).

Gaubil left a great number of manuscripts now kept in the Observatory and the Naval Depot (Paris), and in the British Museum (London). From three manuscript volumes kept formerly at the Ecole Sainte-Genevieve (Paris) the present writer published: “Situation de Holin en Tartarie” (T’oung Pao, March, 1893), and “Situation du Japon et de la Coree” (T’oung Pao, May, 1898). Abel Remusat, in “Nouveaux Melanges Asiatiques” (II, p. 289), wrote of Gaubil: “More productive than Parennin and Gerbillon, less systematical than Premare and Foucquet, more conscientious than Amiot, less light-headed and enthusiastic than Cibot, he treated thoroughly, scientifically, and critically, every question he handled.” His style is rather fatiguing, as Gaubil, in studying the Chinese and Manchu languages, had forgotten much of his native tongue.


Did you like this content? Please help keep us ad-free
Enjoying this content?  Please support our mission!